The Hotshot Freight Train - The Devil Pays in Counterfeit
Record Label: Future Destination Records
Release Date: October 23, 2007
The Hotshot Freight Train have slabs of old-fashioned rock with tints of metro-pop and a country diction in their songs. Their latest album The Devil Pays in Counterfeit gives the impression that the band is taking country music into the big city. Their music has a vivid country rock vibration moving at the quick pace of flashing city lights. These are typical traveling songs that you take with you when you’re driving to the city. They gear you up for the jaunt putting a sprint in your walk but never letting you forget your way back home. Produced by The Hotshot Freight Train, The Devil Pays in Counterfeit has the rugged complexion of Drivers-by-Truckers and the liberating spirit of North Mississippi Allstars. The band’s chief objective is to make commonly grounded rock tunes sound good.
The Hotshot Freight Train make sounding common attractive. The guitar lines of Greg Barker and Josh Hutson aren’t fancy, but they are comfortable with a sound that is familiar to many people and rooted in the foundation of folk-rock music. The band appears earnest in their quest to make rock music that takes audiences back to its formative years, not as a retrospective of the past but as a vehicle for the present similarly to what The Replacements had done with their albums. The Hotshot Freight Train's lead vocalist Joshua Tipton has a rough texture in his vocal keys, which are comparable to Langhorn Slim scraping against the melodic tills formed by the guitars and sprinting pace of the rhythm sections played by Tipton on bass and his brother Caleb Tipton on drums.
There are small changes from song to song in the chord series and tempo, so for the most part, there is very little to separate the songs from each other except for the last track “On and On.” Maybe it’s because this song has more folk-pop elements than the other songs, but whatever it is, it stands out from the rest like an aquamarine stone in a bed of sapphires, even thought there are only a few repetitive lines in the entire song. The lyrical themes, like the music, are about traveling on to a new destination and “On and On” repeats, “You sing on and on … We sing on and on.” Other lyrics have this traveling theme like “This Train,” as Tipton presses, “They say that time is on our side / Well we’re rolling down the line / Don’t get left behind / We’re gonna leave this world behind / You gotta board this train / You gotta board this train now.”
The Hotshot Freight Train’s album The Devil Pays in Counterfeit shows themes that revolve around moving on in life. They make having a common rock sound something that is aurally desirable. Even though their songs have little to separate themselves from one another, it does not hurt the album. Rather, it makes the album sound cohesive. Creating the same fabric over and over again isn’t what is detrimental to The Hotshot Freight Train’s music, but Tipton’s vocals scraping against the melodic fabric can be. You might find moments when you like the music, but not the rough scraping of Tipton’s vocals, though everything comes together nicely on the final track “On and On” when Tipton’s vocals have a sweet melodic slide.